Giving voice to a space

Through their art company, this Chennaiite duo is breathing life into the city's cafes, social hotspots.

It was a meeting with Anuradha Subramanian, the co-founder of an art and design company, 108 Collective, at a popular coffee house in the city that gave us way to a new perspective on how a café can do much more than just offer good food, drinks or attractive decor. The first thing that catches her eyes are the little additions through art that could give a spot a much bigger identity and make the place tell its own story. Along with her partner Karthik SS, the duo has been giving many inanimate public spaces, cafés and pubs in the city and across the country a voice of their own.

If you’ve been to Boats, the city’s first beachside restobar, you would have certainly found yourself lost in the ocean-inspired murals, countless colour pencils forming their logo, the open-book art with books that were based on true stories and the catamaran benches. Thanks to these two art enthusiasts that the place finds its life as a storytelling space that breathes from the seas that it is located by. Similarly, Radio Room, another popular watering hole that the 108 Collective worked on, has been finding its fame not just for its drinks and food, but for what their walls are filled with. Small World, The Big Bang Theory, M’Bessy, Sudaka, Miner Diner, Thirsty Crow and Secret Society — the list is only growing with the husband-wife team being on a mission to paint the town red.
For Karthik, who was an art director at an advertising agency for nearly a decade, art comes in as an instrumental element of every project.

“Nobody thinks of art when they’re setting up a space. They call an architect, think of the cuisine and branding and later think of how to deck up the space. We like to get in a project as early as possible and make even tables as installations, use murals. It’s not just about having a lot of things in a space, but about connecting them through a story. Art is one of the key ways you can get a maximum reaction from people. The idea of finding identity through art hasn’t been explored much in the country and we feel that’s a big gap we can fix,” Karthik and Anuradha explain, adding that Karthik’s advertising background helps immensely in not losing the focus on the tale they want to put forth.

Who knew Dunkin Donuts outlets across the country have a Chennai touch to them? Through a meeting with the CEO of the donut brand, Anuradha, who earlier worked in the hospitality industry, managed to have a Madras connect to all their outlets. “They were struggling to create a pan-India identity for the stores, which is when we had the idea of introducing the cutouts of heads in all stores that spoke of things that all Indians could connect to,” Anuradha shares.

Along with their crew, as they are expanding to doing office spaces with minimal and functional art, Anuradha says they’re not the kind of team that wants to leave work talk once they step into their home. “We’re a very good combination. I come with my business development ideas, and he (Karthik) focuses on the artistic side. Our conversations extend into the night even as we go about our household activities. Creating things from the scratch drives us,” they sign off.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
Next Story